Our vision is the transformation of under-performing schools, as measured in the state assessment test, into schools that rank high in educational excellence. Services of Hope (SOH) realizes our process, Literacy Character Connections (LCC), must impact not only the under-performing students, but the entire school if it is to change from a low performing to a high performing school. SOH firmly believes effective school leadership is one of the characteristics of the change process and is instrumental in the implementation of all other strategies. From a list of DISD Unacceptable ranked schools, SOH seeks out school principals from the Unacceptable list for an exploratory meeting. If it is determined that LCC and the principal have common goals, SOH determines the process/programs that will produce the paradigm shift needed for students, teachers, parents and the principal to achieve a high performing cultural environment. SOH requires and provides the in-service training necessary for teachers and the principal. Our LCC program has proven effective, as demonstrated at Birdie Alexander and Frederick Douglass Elementary Schools; our desire is to expand to benefit thousand of students and, eventually, eradicate all under-performing DISD schools.
“Nearly half of Dallas ISD fifth-graders aren’t ready for middle school, data reveals” was the October 22, 2009 headline in the Dallas Morning News. The article went on to state, “To be considered ready for middle school, fifth-graders had to pass the state TAKS exams in reading, math and science, and could not fail more than one core academic class, according to the district’s formula”. Based on current performance, no other business model would tolerate DISD’s failure level.
The question that remains, then, is what can be done? Evidence shows that an intentional effort to raise educational skills through literacy, develop pro-social behavior through character building, and increase the amount of positive parental involvement will help to transform the lives of at-risk youth. Services of Hope is making these intentional efforts through an extended day program, at Birdie Alexander and Frederick Douglass Elementary Schools, that has shown dramatic improvements in academic and behavioral performance at DISD schools rated Unacceptable by the Texas Education Agency.
The three foundational components of the Services of Hope LCC program include Literacy improvement, Character building (Social Responsibility Training, SRT®), and Connections. These programs have substantially improved school performance in academics, enhanced student and teacher interaction, and motivated parents to be more actively involved in the school environment.
Goals and Evaluation: Our evaluation methodology is focused around the following: student academic readiness, performance, parent participation, and community engagement. The source data comes from third party surveys, state test data, and one survey performed by Services of Hope. SOH seeks to use independent source data to measure the outcome of the program in every possible measurement. There are eight goals we strive to attain, through LCC.
Literacy – Ability to read, write and perform math on grade level.
• Goal 1: Increase Literacy skills, as shown in better in test scores
• Goal 2: Move the target school up in the state and district ranking
Character – Ability to show pro-social behavior as well as improvement in cognitive thinking skills and behavior.
• Goal 3: Increase Class and School Participation
• Goal 4: Demonstrate good citizenship in Behavior/Conduct in school and out
Connections – Bringing adults into a positive relationship with students.
• Goal 5: Retain more teachers year over year
• Goal 6: Increase Parental engagement with students and teachers
At Services of Hope, we believe every moment of learning lasts a lifetime. That is the true benefit which the Literacy Character Connections program offers to the students SOH touches. In 2008, Birdie Alexander Elementary School ranked as one of the twelve worst elementary schools in DISD and placed 3,721 out of 3,767 elementary schools in Texas overall. Since the implementation of the SOH LCC program two years ago, not only has the school passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test for the first time in four years, but it has also gained Academically Recognized status. According to the state, TAKS reading scores for Birdie Alexander improved 15.5 points, from 66% passing last year to 81% passing in 2009. Mathematics scores increased 12 points, from 66% in 2008 to 78% meeting the standard in 2009. At Services of Hope, we are demonstrating results that could write a new headline: “Almost all Dallas ISD fifth-graders are prepared for middle school, data reveals.”